Overclock.net › Forums › General Hardware › General Processor Discussions › Question about core count and gaming performance
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Question about core count and gaming performance

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I joined this forum just to get this one question answered. Why do I so often see people saying that most games only use 2-4 cores?

Let me explain why I find this confusing. My machine is a Dell T5400 running dual Xeon E5450's, 16GB PC2-5300 667MHz DDR2 ram, with a R9 290. Doesn't sound like much, but it's been a fun build and has performed surprisingly well for a seven year old rig. The ram is a huge bottleneck, unfortunately. The only game that has really been a challenge is Doom. I'm now considering an upgrade, and this why the question of core count is important to me (thank you in advance).

The dual E5450's make 8 cores at 3Ghz. Ok, so can someone explain why if games only use 2-4 cores that I see all 8 cores utilized? The games that come to mind are Titanfall (120fps), Doom (50fps), and Ryse: Son of Rome (70fps). Those games, which run on different engines, use all 8 cores at a max of 40 percent utilization across the board. I think that the 2-4 cores thing is nonsense. Is it a holdover from a decade ago that people are in a habit of thinking? Yeah sure something like Quake 4 uses 2 cores, but that game is from 2005...

So from what I've seen on my current machine it makes sense to get an i7 rather than i5, even though an i5 is usually adequate at this point. Thoughts?
Edited by Uriel231 - 5/22/16 at 8:30pm
post #2 of 21
That is because the processor spreads the workload internally. So say you have 8 cores and 50% utilization on all 8 cores. That figure (50%) is average workload recorded over 1 second.
In fact, the game uses 4 cores at 100%, but the CPU switches dynamically which exactly 4 cores that is, in order to keep them evenly utilized. Earlier multi-core CPUs didn't do that, and additional software (like the AMD dual-core optimization "driver") was needed to coordinate core loads.
So if you have 4 cores and see 25% load on all of them, that means the game is only using 1 core (or to be more precise - 1 thread), and the CPU switches constantly on which core that runs, and over 1 second each core gets 25% utilization time.
My Rig
(14 items)
 
Ex-wife's Rig
(15 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5 4460 AsRock H81M-DG4 Sapphire Rx470 Platinum KVR 1600 16Gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
2x Seagate 3Tb Samsung 850 EVO 120 Scythe Ninja 3 Rev.B Windows 10 Pro 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Fujitsu Siemens A17-2A Logitech K280e SuperFlower SF-550K12XP Thermaltake Versa H25 
MouseAudio
Logitech G402 Sony MDR XD150 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Athlon 750K 4.0Ghz AsRock FM2A75 Pro4+ Sapphire R9 270X Dual-X Kingston 2x4Gb 1600 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Samsung 850 EVO 120  Western Digital 320Gb LiteON DVD-RW CoolerMaster Hyper Z600 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Pro x64 Toshiba 32" FullHD TV Logitech FSP Hexa 550 
CaseMouse
DeLUX Logitech 
  hide details  
Reply
My Rig
(14 items)
 
Ex-wife's Rig
(15 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5 4460 AsRock H81M-DG4 Sapphire Rx470 Platinum KVR 1600 16Gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
2x Seagate 3Tb Samsung 850 EVO 120 Scythe Ninja 3 Rev.B Windows 10 Pro 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Fujitsu Siemens A17-2A Logitech K280e SuperFlower SF-550K12XP Thermaltake Versa H25 
MouseAudio
Logitech G402 Sony MDR XD150 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Athlon 750K 4.0Ghz AsRock FM2A75 Pro4+ Sapphire R9 270X Dual-X Kingston 2x4Gb 1600 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Samsung 850 EVO 120  Western Digital 320Gb LiteON DVD-RW CoolerMaster Hyper Z600 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Pro x64 Toshiba 32" FullHD TV Logitech FSP Hexa 550 
CaseMouse
DeLUX Logitech 
  hide details  
Reply
post #3 of 21
CPU load is automatically spread across all cores unless you set affinity for a process to stay on a specific core/thread. That means a single thread application is going to be bounced across all 4 cores but I think it's actually all 8 threads if you have HT but maybe they were not that stupid to bounce it on HT threads who knows, I've seen it all so it wouldn't be the first mess up.

For most games a modern 4GHz Intel dual core is fine unless you are running some crazy stuff or 2xGPU etc.

i7 is nice but the extra Intel charges for the added HT over i5 is insane and while in MT apps you get a theoretical +1 core compared to HT off performance it's just not worth it if you don't do a lot of MT work like encoding, in such a case you will probably get a multicore machine with not just 4 cores and those all have HT and cost a lot.
post #4 of 21
You might try something similar to what I did in this thread, just to see what effect it has on your machine and the games you play.


http://www.overclock.net/t/1591786/just-in-case-you-thought-more-than-4-cores-wasnt-helpful-for-gaming
Ryzen Shine!
(14 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Ryzen 1800X @ 4125mhz 1.432 Volts MSI X370 Titanium   Fury  G.SKILL TridentZ Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) 288-Pin... 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 850 pro Hp 1260 I liquid unobtanium Koolance 480mm radiator, 39... Win 7 HP/Winspy 10 64bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
24" hp @ 1900x1200 Logitech G19 PC power and cooling 910 watt silencer Thermaltake P5 
MouseMouse Pad
Logitech MX 518 fUnc industries 
  hide details  
Reply
Ryzen Shine!
(14 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Ryzen 1800X @ 4125mhz 1.432 Volts MSI X370 Titanium   Fury  G.SKILL TridentZ Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) 288-Pin... 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 850 pro Hp 1260 I liquid unobtanium Koolance 480mm radiator, 39... Win 7 HP/Winspy 10 64bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
24" hp @ 1900x1200 Logitech G19 PC power and cooling 910 watt silencer Thermaltake P5 
MouseMouse Pad
Logitech MX 518 fUnc industries 
  hide details  
Reply
post #5 of 21
Hats off to you man for running the dual xeons still. I have a skulltrail with two e5472s in it. Same 3GHz but 1600 fsb and 800MHz ram. I love the thing. Other than ram speed it crunches numbers almost as fast as my e5-2670.

If you're happy with it, keep it forever. There's no reason to upgrade CPUs these days, graphics and storage are the only thing moving forward.

I for one like your build.

Like the other guys said, yeah windows hops the threads around on your 8 cores. This is actually extra cool for multi processor systems because sharing the workload also spreads the heat between 2 heatsinks or waterblocks so your processors run cool.

If you're doing heavy gaming make sure that the interface chip/ memory controller for the dual sockets has a fan on it. The 5400 controller on my skulltrail pumps out some serious heat handling all that I/O
Home Gaming Rig
(17 items)
 
Server Computer
(11 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-3820s @ 4.75 GHz intel DX79SR Sapphire R9 fury x  4x4 GEIL running at 2333 10-12-11-28 T1 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
samsung 850 EVO times 4 in raid 0 samsung 960 Pro samsung dvdR danger den 1366 waterblock 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate hp la2405wg old dell ps/2 Corsair HX1050 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
apevia xcruiser 2 microsoft intellimouse explorer 1.2A formica countertop alesis monitor one MK2 speakers 
Other
adaptec 6405 raid controller 512MB cache 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
qx6800 @ 3.1GHz intel dx48bt2 sapphire radeon HD 5870 sapphire radeon HD 5870 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveCooling
xfx 5970 corsair low latency ddr3-1600  wd velociraptor 500GB Danger Den 775 waterblock 
OS
Windows 7 Ultimate 
  hide details  
Reply
Home Gaming Rig
(17 items)
 
Server Computer
(11 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-3820s @ 4.75 GHz intel DX79SR Sapphire R9 fury x  4x4 GEIL running at 2333 10-12-11-28 T1 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
samsung 850 EVO times 4 in raid 0 samsung 960 Pro samsung dvdR danger den 1366 waterblock 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate hp la2405wg old dell ps/2 Corsair HX1050 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
apevia xcruiser 2 microsoft intellimouse explorer 1.2A formica countertop alesis monitor one MK2 speakers 
Other
adaptec 6405 raid controller 512MB cache 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
qx6800 @ 3.1GHz intel dx48bt2 sapphire radeon HD 5870 sapphire radeon HD 5870 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveCooling
xfx 5970 corsair low latency ddr3-1600  wd velociraptor 500GB Danger Den 775 waterblock 
OS
Windows 7 Ultimate 
  hide details  
Reply
post #6 of 21
i5 is fine with a single 290.
Second Intel Rig
(16 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2700 4.5/ 1.28 77 1050 16 / 1866 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
1000 212 10 64 32 1080 
PowerCase
700 912 
  hide details  
Reply
Second Intel Rig
(16 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2700 4.5/ 1.28 77 1050 16 / 1866 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
1000 212 10 64 32 1080 
PowerCase
700 912 
  hide details  
Reply
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
If I'm getting this, Windows will schedule a thread depending on availability. Theoretically, a single threaded application that maxes out one processor (the E5450 is not HT, so 1:1), and is tasked by processor availability, makes Windows task manager show 12.5% average usage. Also, the way the processors are utilized sounds like it could be understood in terms of duty cycle. While that single core may require a 12.5% duty cycle, a processor with double the single-threaded performance would require 6.25% to complete the same task. It's making sense to me why single threaded performance is so important versus overall core count. Must be the reason why my cousin's i5 4690k stomps my E5450's combined at idTech games, despite the higher Passmark score of the dual Xeons. Couldn't wrap my head around as to why before posting here.

Hey! Someone who likes my build smile.gif It was a fun challenge piecing together, and has been really good to me. Unfortunately it is at the limits of its capabilities with no upgrade path available. I think I'll hold off for now and see what the field looks like when Zen is released. AMD will be releasing a better processor, and Intel will respond.

Thank you all for the help and I welcome more thoughts and feedback.
Edited by Uriel231 - 6/5/16 at 5:35pm
post #8 of 21
Yeah, it's a shame that so many apps are limited to single core performance. I love my dual xeon rig. I use it for a fileserver and also a render client. Sometimes I let it do some folding to heat my office in the colder months.

What was your personal passmark score? I'd like to see how it compares to my relatively similar build (minus the graphics haha) If you like cores, check out ebay right now. I bought a used xeon E5-2670 for 60 freaking dollars, that's 8 cores, 16 threads. 3GHz with all cores active, 3.2 with 4 or less active. It stomps. Big time.

For the money, you can not beat it's overall crunching power. I use that for my work computer, regular office work + rendering for solidworks. I keep the i7-3820s @4.75 GHz for my gaming rig though. Gotta have that dang elusive single core performance.

Like I said before, yeah single core performance is a limiting factor, but depending on what you're playing, your xeons shouldn't be too much of a bottleneck. And if they are, it's because of super inefficient programming by game devs. Stupid Nvidiots code all their "gameworks" games so that AMD/ATI guys have all these weird performance bottlenecks. It's a bunch of crap. But that's another thread.
Home Gaming Rig
(17 items)
 
Server Computer
(11 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-3820s @ 4.75 GHz intel DX79SR Sapphire R9 fury x  4x4 GEIL running at 2333 10-12-11-28 T1 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
samsung 850 EVO times 4 in raid 0 samsung 960 Pro samsung dvdR danger den 1366 waterblock 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate hp la2405wg old dell ps/2 Corsair HX1050 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
apevia xcruiser 2 microsoft intellimouse explorer 1.2A formica countertop alesis monitor one MK2 speakers 
Other
adaptec 6405 raid controller 512MB cache 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
qx6800 @ 3.1GHz intel dx48bt2 sapphire radeon HD 5870 sapphire radeon HD 5870 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveCooling
xfx 5970 corsair low latency ddr3-1600  wd velociraptor 500GB Danger Den 775 waterblock 
OS
Windows 7 Ultimate 
  hide details  
Reply
Home Gaming Rig
(17 items)
 
Server Computer
(11 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-3820s @ 4.75 GHz intel DX79SR Sapphire R9 fury x  4x4 GEIL running at 2333 10-12-11-28 T1 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
samsung 850 EVO times 4 in raid 0 samsung 960 Pro samsung dvdR danger den 1366 waterblock 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate hp la2405wg old dell ps/2 Corsair HX1050 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
apevia xcruiser 2 microsoft intellimouse explorer 1.2A formica countertop alesis monitor one MK2 speakers 
Other
adaptec 6405 raid controller 512MB cache 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
qx6800 @ 3.1GHz intel dx48bt2 sapphire radeon HD 5870 sapphire radeon HD 5870 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveCooling
xfx 5970 corsair low latency ddr3-1600  wd velociraptor 500GB Danger Den 775 waterblock 
OS
Windows 7 Ultimate 
  hide details  
Reply
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Here are the Passmark CPU results for my rig:

CPU Mark: 8077
Integer Math: 15112
Floating Point Math: 8987
Prime Numbers: 36.0
Extended Instructions: 21.1
Compression: 13935
Encryption: 1690
Physics: 565
Sorting: 7616
Single Threaded: 1308
Edited by Uriel231 - 6/5/16 at 10:27pm
post #10 of 21
Haha ours are pretty close. It's funny how some are lower and some are higher. I'm on a skulltrail board with two e5472 xeons 3GHz (1600 FSB) and four 2GB 800MHz FBdimms

CPU Mark: 8135
Integer Math: 14654
Floating Point Math: 9008
Prime Numbers: 38.1
Extended Instructions: 20.7
Compression: 13966
Encryption: 1701
Physics: 610
Sorting: 7684
Single Threaded: 1311

Obviously we have different motherboards but the main difference between our rigs is the FSB of the xeons and the ram frequency. I think that comes through a little bit in my physics score but otherwise I think the variance is just OS related stuff. Java or some random crap using some rogue cpu cycles and messing with the scores.



That's a picture of mine running temporary quadfire for the ATI/Nvidiot fanboy challenge



And that's what it looks like normally, running as my RAID 50 NAS. Of course it has the cover on the case normally though.

Those 800MHz FBdimms get reaaaalllyy hot, I put an old pentium 4 fan above them.
Home Gaming Rig
(17 items)
 
Server Computer
(11 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-3820s @ 4.75 GHz intel DX79SR Sapphire R9 fury x  4x4 GEIL running at 2333 10-12-11-28 T1 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
samsung 850 EVO times 4 in raid 0 samsung 960 Pro samsung dvdR danger den 1366 waterblock 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate hp la2405wg old dell ps/2 Corsair HX1050 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
apevia xcruiser 2 microsoft intellimouse explorer 1.2A formica countertop alesis monitor one MK2 speakers 
Other
adaptec 6405 raid controller 512MB cache 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
qx6800 @ 3.1GHz intel dx48bt2 sapphire radeon HD 5870 sapphire radeon HD 5870 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveCooling
xfx 5970 corsair low latency ddr3-1600  wd velociraptor 500GB Danger Den 775 waterblock 
OS
Windows 7 Ultimate 
  hide details  
Reply
Home Gaming Rig
(17 items)
 
Server Computer
(11 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-3820s @ 4.75 GHz intel DX79SR Sapphire R9 fury x  4x4 GEIL running at 2333 10-12-11-28 T1 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
samsung 850 EVO times 4 in raid 0 samsung 960 Pro samsung dvdR danger den 1366 waterblock 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate hp la2405wg old dell ps/2 Corsair HX1050 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
apevia xcruiser 2 microsoft intellimouse explorer 1.2A formica countertop alesis monitor one MK2 speakers 
Other
adaptec 6405 raid controller 512MB cache 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
qx6800 @ 3.1GHz intel dx48bt2 sapphire radeon HD 5870 sapphire radeon HD 5870 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveCooling
xfx 5970 corsair low latency ddr3-1600  wd velociraptor 500GB Danger Den 775 waterblock 
OS
Windows 7 Ultimate 
  hide details  
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Processor Discussions
Overclock.net › Forums › General Hardware › General Processor Discussions › Question about core count and gaming performance